Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre

Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre

The De Wildt Cheetah Center was established by Ann Van Dyk and brother Godfrey in 1971 with the aim of breeding endangered species. Since that time the Centre’s efforts have resulted in the major achievement of breeding what was once a threatened species, the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus). Over the years, over 750 cheetah cubs have been born at De Wildt – a dramatic contrast to the days when the cheetah population of South Africa was estimated at a mere 700.

While the cheetah project was the base from which the Center launched its conservation ethic, it soon widened to include other rare and endangered animals such as the wild dog, brown hyaena, serval, suni antelope, blue and red duiker, bontebok, riverine rabbit and vultures - including the very rare Egyptian vulture. Many of these have been successfully bred for later reintroduction into the wild, thus helping to repopulate areas where such species have disappeared or are no longer abundant.

During 2000, as a reaction to the declining numbers of cheetah in the wild, De Wildt spearheaded the formation of the National Cheetah Management Forum which developed a national strategy for the protection of free-roaming cheetah. One action to come from the group, was the realization of the need for a national census of free-roaming cheetah. This census was begun in 2003 and continued for three years.

The country of South Africa has awakened to the success of the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust. In 2002, its founder and director, Ann van Dyk, received the gold medal from the Wildlife and Environment Society; and that was followed, in 2003, by Ann being awarded the Chancellors Award from the University of Pretoria.

Nestled in the foothills of the Magaliesberg in North West Province, the De Wildt Cheetah Centre is situated an hour from Johannesburg and forty-five minutes from Pretoria. It is close to the Hartbeespoort Dam, a popular destination for day excursions from Pretoria and Johannesburg. This is an exceptionally interesting tour, providing the visitor with a unique opportunity to learn more about South Africa’s fascinating wildlife – and the efforts to preserve it for future generations.

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